As a young girl, April Gottung of Arpin, Wisconsin starting "passing out." Her doctor told the eight-year-old that nothing was wrong and that she was probably just playing too hard.
Six years later, April had a seizure and fainted at home. Her mother rushed her to the hospital.
April was diagnosed with long QT syndrome (LQTS), an infrequent, often hereditary disorder of the heart's electrical rhythm that usually affects children or young adults.
April had a defibrillator implanted in her chest to restore her heart's rhythm. The device reduces the risk of complications and death. She was also prescribed a daily beta blocker medication to slow her heart rate; she will take it for the rest of her life.
"Living with LQTS has affected my life in positive and negative ways," April says. "I am very lucky to be able to share my story with everyone. Being just 14 when I was diagnosed made it hard to give up strenuous activities, especially the sports I enjoyed and most of the playful activities my friends were doing every day."
Because long QT syndrome is often hereditary, her family members were also tested. April's dad and sister were also diagnosed with LQTS. Doctors traced the disorder to April's grandfather who died at a young age, probably from LQTS. The disorder can be treated and controlled, but it must first be diagnosed.
Today, April is a college student, a heart disease survivor, an artist and a volunteer for the American Heart Association. She recently made a trip to Washington D.C. to remind lawmakers of the strong need to increase funding for heart disease and stroke research.
"Research helped to create an implanted defibrillator, which is the device that has saved my life. The defibrillator keeps my heart beating normally."
April hopes her story helps others believe that everyone deserves to live a life free of heart disease, the No. 1 killer in the United States.
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